Tractors equipped with either tracks or tires can create surface compaction. But which one creates the least amount of compaction?
“In fact, both radial tires, when properly inflated, and tracks will result in similar compaction,” says Jodi DeJong-Hughes, University of Minnesota Extension educator in crops and soils.
Tracks exert a ground pressure of approximately 4 to 7 psi depending on track width, length, and tractor weight, she says.
Radial tires exert a pressure of 1 to 2 pounds higher than their inflation pressure. For example, if a radial tire is inflated to 6 psi, the tire exerts a pressure of 7 to 8 psi on the soil.
Since tracks and tires carry similar loads and have low soil pressure, they both exert similar stress onto the soil, she says.
TIRE NUMBERS: Radial tires exert a pressure of 1 to 2 pounds more than the tire pressure.
To reduce compaction, DeJong-Hughes suggests:
• Staying off the soil when it is wet.
• Decreasing axle loads.
• Maintaining proper tire inflation rates. Some radial tires can be inflated as low as 6 to 8 psi.
• Checking with your dealer to establish the proper tire pressure for your tractor.
• Double checking your tire pressure before doing fieldwork. Not only will you reduce soil compaction, you can improve tractor efficiency, DeJong-Hughes says.